• Germany's news in English

Probe launched into filmed police attack

The Local · 8 Oct 2012, 18:12

Published: 08 Oct 2012 18:12 GMT+02:00

The apparently deranged André C. was seen walking through the streets of the city's Wedding district holding two knives and carrying an axe in his waistband on Saturday afternoon. A police car arrived and two officers jumped out of the car holding firearms. The situation escalated when the 50-year-old moved to attack the officers after they called on him to drop his weapons.

Eyewitnesses said a female officer fired at least five warning shots into the air, and then shot at the man, hitting him once in the calf and grazing his stomach twice. Reinforcements were called because the man still clung to one of his knives.

A video filmed by a passer-by and released on the Bild website shows five officers then surrounding the man sitting on the ground. They can be seen spraying him twice with pepper spray, hitting him on the arm with a baton, and kicking him in the back of the neck. One officer then appears to let a police dog bite him in the head.

André C. sustained severe injuries while he was being overpowered and later underwent emergency surgery. He was reported to be out of danger on Monday.

Several eyewitnesses gave a damning account of the police's actions. "The policewoman looked totally frantic," one local resident told the B.Z. newspaper. "She just kept screaming 'drop the knife, drop the knife.' "

"The officers looked scared," eyewitness Yessin B. said, while another told Bild newspaper, "The man looked defenceless, the police response seemed brutal."

State criminal investigators have launched a routine investigation to determine whether the police's violence was appropriate, while police unions were quick to defend the officers.

"Anyone who calls that brutal, I'd like to watch them wet themselves if they were in that situation," said Bodo Pfalzgraf, head of the Berlin branch of police union DPolG. His counterpart Michael Purper of the GdP union added, "If the police shouts warnings, and even fires warning shots and the man still won't drop the weapon, then resorting to violence is allowed."

Berlin politicians also gave cautious support for the police. "After the warning shots, the man knew what he was letting himself in for," said Christoph Lauer, security policy spokesman for the Berlin Pirate Party, who intends to raise the incident at a parliamentary committee meeting. "The video does not show what happened before and afterwards."

But André C.'s nephew Martin K. said the police's response was much too tough. "My uncle was already lying on the ground seriously injured," he told B.Z., adding that he couldn't explain his relative's deranged behaviour.

The paper reported that André C. had got into an argument with "a group of Asians" that afternoon, had gone home to get something and was then stopped by the police.

"My uncle is usually a really nice guy who wouldn't do anything to anyone," said 23-year-old Martin K. "He just drinks a bit too much. His son died 10 years ago in an accident in Thailand, and his father died six weeks ago. He hasn't really got over it yet."

André C. has no previous convictions, though he has come to the police's attention for misdemeanours including verbal abuse in the past three years.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:58 October 8, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
How come these knife stories have someone called Andre in them? There was also one in Hamburg. http://www.thelocal.de/national/20121004-45351.html

If I meet someone called Andre, I am moving on fast.
14:16 October 8, 2012 by catjones
Obviously, berlin police lack imagination. After shooting, beating, kicking, spraying and biting they could have taken the guy's knife and stabbed him.
14:33 October 8, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
In fairness. He was still wielding the knife and was a serious threat. The police seem to me to be doing all that was necessary to unarm him without getting harmed themselves. A man still capable of lashing out with a knife is still dangerous and they were right to take measures to unarm him without putting themselves at risk.
14:34 October 8, 2012 by raandy
"Anyone who calls that brutal, I'd like to watch them wet themselves if they were in that situation," said Bodo Pfalzgraf, head of the Berlin branch of police union "

Now there is a one sided statement, lets get this correct.

There are 5 officers, a female shooting in the air at the man armed with knifes and a hatchet in his belt, he gets shot in the leg and a couple of rounds graze his stomach, and she is reported to look crazed. The police looked scared, they peppered him, kicked him in the back of the head while he was down and then turned the dog loose on him.

The video clearly shows this as unnecessary brutality.

So 4 scared police men, a polie dog and one shooting frantic police women , were in a situation where they could or did pee themselves, all the time an eye witness reported the perp looked defenseless.

I give this pack of skilled police persons less than 4 hours to survive on the streets of LA.
15:10 October 8, 2012 by keeps71
I think raandy is quite right. The police were scared and had obviously not been trained properly for this eventuality. Only officers with the appropriate training should be called to attend this type of dangerous situation. I assume Berlin doesn't have any.

What a bizarre comment for Herr Pfalzgraf to make. Members of the general public should never be in that situation and it is the police's job to ensure that.
15:21 October 8, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@keeps71. If not the army then how about RoboCop. Seriously, there is no soft way to get this situation under control. The army probably would have thrown a hand grenade at him. The police obviously did not want to kill him. Maybe in the US he would of been riddled with a machine gun.
15:22 October 8, 2012 by Snooker
The deranged man was walking down the street carrying a knife in each hand and an axe in his belt. When told by officers to drop the weapons, he acted as though he would then attack the officers. (Remember that knives can also be thrown.) Warning shots were fired, which he ignored and continued brandishing the weapons at the officers in a threatening way. He was shot in the calf and in the torso; with him barely registering the pain and still he did not surrender the weapons.

At this point even an LA popo would be assuming he is hopped up on something and act accordingly... which means protect citizens and yourself by disarming in whatever way possible... even resulting to violence. They wanted him to stay on the ground and allow for handcuffing, but he would not do either.

The kick he received to the back of the neck was immediately following indications that he intended to stand again. I have no idea what he might have done to deserve the chomping by the dog or the extra baton love since the video seems to have been specifically edited to only show the most violent actions by the police.

But let's face it, the police have told you to give up your weapons, they have shot you and have eventually disarmed you. Does it really make sense to continue fighting? No. Even the most violent of offenders usually give up by this point and allow the cuffing.

Did they do it all correctly? Was the escalation right? I don't know, I'm not a cop anymore than I bet the average Local reader is. We all become so de-sensitized by what we feel we "witness" on TV and in movies. But those fights are scripted, with no one's life in danger and the ending is obvious to the individuals in the filming. No police officer on the ground that day knew what the man wielding the huge knives was capable of, or if he was willing to kill them or himself.

A rational person wouldn't have been armed in such a way, they wouldn't have threatened a police officer or passersby. But this man persisted. In the end, I feel he got what he deserved... even if his nephew says he is a really nice guy.

As for me, I'm happy to hear that the Berlin police are willing to stand between myself and such a maniac.
15:38 October 8, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Agreed @Snooker

It is easy to blame the police. Berlin has a lot of nutters and there are regular shootings and stabbings lately. They stepped in to make the area safe and nobody can blame them for not risking getting injured or killed themselves. In a lot of countries this guy would just have been shot dead. I am not agreeing with shooting him dead and it is good that the police managed to get him down and unarmed without killing him. Now his family and the authorities can see what really happened with him. Maybe too much medication or something like that. The police in this video do not seem to me to be taking any pleasure in hurting him and were only making sure he did not regain his feet and become a bigger threat again.
16:11 October 8, 2012 by keeps71
Well, my point is the police were just wildly lashing out at him with no purpose or real plan how to subdue him. Just kicking someone in the head when they are down or setting a dog on him won't help. Isn't the procedure they use in the states to sit or lie on him, then remove the weapon and cuff him? I don't see anyone trying to disarm him - perhaps it was edited out? Surely this is just poor training, isn't it? I am not questioning the violence used by the officers, I am questioning their methods. They didn't know how to subdue him.
17:45 October 8, 2012 by William Thirteen
A sad story for all involved. The police, bless their little blue hearts, seemed totally unprepared to deal with his refusal to drop his weapons. And who can blame him, if he was disoriented and felt his life in danger. I'm surprised the bulls didn't have a taser. In the US he would have been tased immediately and if that didn't succeed in subduing and they judged him a further threat to life and limb he would have been killed. I am certainly not endorsing that method, of course.
17:49 October 8, 2012 by lucksi
youtube. com/watch?v=4cAAM4TXPdw

look how US cops solve that. They can shoot a knife wielding man who is backing away from them 46 times. And that is justified over there. There are no warning shots or shots to disable. There is only shoot to kill.

Mace and tasers are only for unarmed unresisting targets.

But the kick to the neck in the video looks bad.
19:06 October 8, 2012 by pjnt
I'm actually surprised that they took so much effort to take him down like that. A person with a knife can kill you. They even risked the life of a dog to try get this guy to realize the next option available to the police was to kill him.

If I were to criticize this, and I am no expert, I would use this video as something you should not do. However for the opposite reasons listed here. I would say warn, try take down safely and then drop him permanently. Once the man is down and can no longer hurt anyone, hope the doctors can put him back together.
20:12 October 8, 2012 by Englishted
Sounds very like the Russian aristocracy attempt to murder Rasputin.
20:16 October 8, 2012 by zeddriver
The police in the US do not and should not fire warning shots. In the heat of the moment one must be aware of where that warning shot will go. I.E. Into a building or even a plane coming into a nearby airport. The police should give several verbal warnings and use a taser if they have one. If the perp still does not comply and further escalates the danger by coming at the police with weapons in hand. The perp should be dispatched permanently. No shots to the leg. As those will pass through and possibly hurt innocent bystanders.
20:34 October 8, 2012 by realist1961
My uncle is usually a nice guy as well, however, he doesn't attack the police while carrying two knives and an axe. The ending is not surprising. The police are in a no win situation. Too little force and someone could get hurt and they have to answer as to why they didn't do more.. too much force and they're perceived as brutal and they have to answer to why they didn't do something different.
21:18 October 8, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Yeah Zeddriver. I wonder what actually did happen to those 5 warning shots fired in the air. I hope they were only blanks. Anybody notice dead birds in the area or a crash landing helicopter?

The trouble with this article is TL are trying to write it like it could be a case of police brutality. The guy was walking around wielding two knives and an axe. Maybe they should have asked him politely over a cup of tea to hand over the weapons?
21:45 October 8, 2012 by steel jaws
The police may have gone a little to far in this case, but it is easy to criticise afterwards. In the town where I live, they do not go far enough, the chap would have to stab someone before the cops do anything. What is better?
00:45 October 9, 2012 by raandy
Berlin fuer alles I believe the man was in SHOCK after being shot and was just sitting there bewusste los.

He was not being aggressive, the kick to the neck and turning the canine loose was pure brutality,totally unnecessary.

Be different if he was a friend or relative of yours I am sure.
01:21 October 9, 2012 by gorongoza
"My uncle is usually a really nice guy who wouldn't do anything to anyone,"

André C. was seen walking through the streets of the city's Wedding district holding two knives and carrying an axe in his waistband on Saturday afternoon.

The paper reported that André C. had got into an argument with "a group of Asians" that afternoon, had gone home to get something and was then stopped by the police.

Sad that he was apprehended that way by the police. But on that day for that moment he was no nice guy ..... and the police judged him correctly, not according to his niceness only known you. Here is a man fully armed and hunting down the group of Asians he had an argument with before.Lucky fell on the side of the Asians that the police stumbled on him before he executed his mission. For the man MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED in converse.
03:09 October 9, 2012 by bhess
Walking down the street with two knives, an axe, and in an agitiated state. Hmmmm

That's called a good shoot in the States. Look at photos of officers that have been attacked by a knife-wielders and you'll tell yourself I'd rather be shot.

In my city last year a guy with an axe killed a mom and baby with it. No connection to each other they were just walking down the street.

So when you have been in that situation and have the responsibility of public safety on your shoulders then you can criticize. The cops were more than nice in my opinion. In the States that guy is dead. When they tell you to drop the knife they mean it.
08:53 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@raandy. Look at the movie clip taking into consideration it is edited. The man was not unarmed and not dangerous when the police kicked him and set the dog on him. He was on the ground still wielding the knife and was attempting to get back up when the policeman kicked him. He was not complying obviously with their request to drop the weapon and was instead still acting dangerously. I would not expect the police to put themselves in danger to get the weapons off him.
09:56 October 9, 2012 by mobaisch
kinda of remind me of israeli soldiers..
02:30 October 11, 2012 by zeulf
NEXT TIME IT HAPPENS, the cops should just call Raandy, He's got all

the answers in a tough situation, let him get in there and be knifed by a deranged person, Be my guest
19:39 October 12, 2012 by Berliner1978
No warning shots. In the US we have what is referred to as "the 21 foot rule". (7m)

This is from a study done back in the 80's that demonstrated that a average adult could close this distance and deliver a fatal stab wound in approximately 1.5 seconds. It is for this reason that Police are often required/trained to be able to draw and fire 2 center of mass shots in under 2 seconds. This is easily attainable with proper training and practice.

5 warning shots and then aiming for the leg is a joke. The Berlin Polizei trained to shoot for the arm or the leg with an MP5 on semi-auto 30 years ago, I don't know about now, but this is an outdated idea that has been proven to be a really bad idea for reasons of inability do do it reliably on a moving target. People do not stand still in these situations, and every round fired that misses or over penetrates is an innocent victim waiting to happen. If one is going to shoot, shoot center of mass every time. And don't used full metal jacketed ammo which is proven to over penetrate compared to hollow point or frangible ammo.
14:23 October 15, 2012 by Frenchone
German policeman are cowards, I mean more than in any other countries.
07:57 October 17, 2012 by Tdye
good thing that wasn't here in America...thee cops would have shot him 50 times, beat him, pepper sprayed him and then arrest him for assaulting the police
18:08 October 20, 2012 by vladpootin
This was definitely chaotic incident - and a classic case of European police who are not accustomed to dealing with armed and mentally deranged subjects - so they either over-react or under-react! This video only demonstrates poor training...not excessive force. Fear and confusion are human responses to stress and these Berliner cops are definitely human and stressed in this incident. A calm, less confrontational approach is almost always the best rule when mental illness is obvious...But these troopers did not recognize that...Nothing they did was lethal and cause of death should exonerate them.
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
EU refugee rules are 'obsolete': Merkel
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande before their joint speeches to MEPs in Strasbourg. Photo: DPA

EU refugee rules are 'obsolete': Merkel

2 hours ago

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the European Union's asylum rules were "obsolete" as they put the burden on EU states where migrants first arrive to process claims for refugee status.

Forestry boss' mishap sparks forest fire
Helmut Brunner. Photo: DPA

Forestry boss' mishap sparks forest fire

4 hours ago

Bavarian Forestry Minister Helmut Brunner accidentally started a forest fire over the weekend, after dumping ashes in a thicket near his house.

Nine tasty German food and drink idioms
"Everything has an end; only sausages have two." Words of wisdom from Germany. Photo: DPA

Nine tasty German food and drink idioms

5 hours ago

Because apparently, even when Germans aren't talking about food... they still like to talk about food.

Germany counts gold to calm conspiracists
Gold bars at the Bundesbank. Photo: DPA

Germany counts gold to calm conspiracists

7 hours ago

The Bundesbank (Federal Bank) has released a detailed list of all the gold Germany owns, hoping to settle fears it has been exaggerating its wealth.

Could Merkel win the Nobel Peace Prize?
Photo: DPA.

Could Merkel win the Nobel Peace Prize?

9 hours ago

Angela Merkel is emerging as a favourite to win the Nobel Peace Prize given her work to open Germany up to nearly one million refugees this year alone, according to some peace activists. But does the German Chancellor have what it takes to make the cut?

Five hurt in brawl at Hamburg refugee centre
A refugee centre in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Five hurt in brawl at Hamburg refugee centre

11 hours ago

Five people were injured in a punch-up between scores of Afghans and Albanians at an asylum seekers' centre in Hamburg on Tuesday, local police told AFP.

VW chief: recall of cars could start by January
Photo: DPA

VW chief: recall of cars could start by January

10 hours ago

The new chief of embattled carmaker Volkswagen said the recall of diesel cars affected by the pollution cheating scandal could start by January and end by the end of 2016.

Football legend Gerd Müller has Alzheimers
Gerd Müller. Photo: DPA

Football legend Gerd Müller has Alzheimers

11 hours ago

Former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Müller is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the Bundesliga club said on Tuesday.

UK exit from EU would be 'disaster': Schäuble
Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA

UK exit from EU would be 'disaster': Schäuble

11 hours ago

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Tuesday that he wanted to do everything possible to keep Britain from leaving the European Union, adding that it would be a disaster for both the British and Europeans.

Activists love-bomb NSA with 'quit spying' drone
The entrance to the Dagger Complex in Darmstadt. Photo: DPA

Activists love-bomb NSA with 'quit spying' drone

1 day ago

An anti-spying organisation used a drone to drop leaflets over an NSA complex in southern Germany last week, hoping to persuade spooks to choose another line of work.

Are the German public too happy to see Hitler?
Government blocks plans for Berlin 'cannabis cafes'
'Der Klassiker': no classic at all for Dortmund
Dortmund fans' bad behaviour in Thessaloniki
UK Ambassador wants more young Brits in Germany
How Snoop Dogg dissed Munich hip hop scene
More wind power generated so far in 2015 than all of 2014
Rent a nuclear bunker near Berlin for just €3,000 a month
German universities leap up world elite rankings
Business & Money
What to do if you own a cheating Volkswagen
Homeland star's fave Berlin spot is Berghain
Why Dresden Buddhists won't be using the swastika symbol
Mystery of 'murdered' student found alive after 31 years
What wearable technology might look like in the future
Why vegetarian food is more German than a Bratwurst
The very best of traditional German vegetarian food
The secret to more travel for less
The first glimpse of Neptune - from an observatory in Berlin
How VW was rebuilt from nothing... by an English army officer
Our favourite songs about Germany by foreigners
Expats' loves and hates about Germany
Court thinks Sphynx cats are too weird to be allowed to breed
Business & Money
What do cars mean to the Germans?
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd